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October 16, 2003
Day 1

They're Off!


Up, up and away!

craneHY03_191
Devoted " craniacs" who turned up almost daily from Oct. 8 to see the migration begin! Photos OM/WCEP.
Hooray! At 7:44 this morning, 15 juvenile Whooping Cranes took off from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, following an ultralight airplane on the first leg of their long flight to Florida. Nine of the cranes made the entire 23.2-mile flight to Juneau County. Two dropped down just 2 miles from the landing site and will be transported to the stopping point. The other 4 dropped out while still close to the refuge, and will also be transported to join the other birds. In unfamiliar territory, these cranes are more likely to stick with the aircraft in coming days. We re fairly confident that now that these birds are away from the familiarity of Necedah refuge, they ll more consistently follow the ultralight aircraft, said Operation Migration s Joe Duff, the lead ultralight pilot.

Crane #303 remains under observation at the International Crane Foundation as she recovers from a small leg fracture. WCEP project veterinarians hope to transport her to join the ultralight-led migration in progress after she has healed.

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Try This! Journaling Questions

  • Today they flew the first 23.2 miles of their 1228-mile journey. How many miles to go? How do you feel about today's take-off? Relieved? Excited? Worried? How do you think the cranes will react to their first night in a strange place? Imagine you are one of the cranes. If you could use human words and write, what would you put in your diary today?

  • Yesterday we asked which stretch of the flight might be aided by westerly winds. That would be the stretch from Illinois to Indiana, after the birds have flown south far enough to avoid flying over Chicago. How many days will it take the birds to get down to Illinois? Write down your prediction, and after the cranes cross the Wisconsin/Illinois border, see how close your guess was.

     

    Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the
    Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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